LXIX. (192) Therefore the one who as superior in virtue received the first place, which, indeed, fell to him as his due. For he also obtained the blessing in connection with the perfection of prayer. But he is a vain and conceited pretender to wisdom who said, “He took away my blessing and also my birthright.” For what he took, O foolish man, was not yours, but was rather the opposite to what was yours. For your deeds are thought worthy of slavery, but his are thought worthy of supremacy. (193) And if you are content to become the slave of the wise man, you shall receive your share of reproof and of correction, and so you shall discard ignorance and folly which are the destruction of the soul. For thy father, when praying, says to you, “You shall serve your Brother,”{95}{#ge 27:40.} but not now; for he will not be able to endure your endeavouring to throw off the yoke. But when you have loosed his yoke from off your neck, that is to say, when you have cast off the boastfulness and arrogance which you had, after you had yoked yourself to the chariot of the passions, under the guidance of the charioteer, Folly. (194) Now, indeed, you are the slave of cruel and intolerable masters, who are within yourself, and who look upon it as a law never to set any one free; but if you run away and escape from them, then the master who loves slaves will receive you in a good hope of freedom, and will not surrender you any more to your former companions, having learnt from Moses that necessary doctrine and lesson, “Not to give up a servant to his master who has escaped from his master unto him; for he shall dwell with him in any place which shall please Him.”{96}{#de 23:16.}

LXX. (195) But as long as you did not escape, and while you were still bridled with the bridle of those masters, you were unworthy to be the servant of a worse master. Giving thus the greatest proof of a mean, and lowly, and servile disposition, when you said, “My birthright and my Blessing.”{97}{#ge 27:36.} For these are the words of men who have fallen into immoderate ignorance, since it belongs to God alone to say, “Mine;” for to him alone do all things properly belong. (196) And to this he will himself bear witness when he says, “My gifts, my offerings, my first Fruits.”{98}{#nu 28:2.} You must take notice here that gifts are spoken of in contradistinction to offerings. For the former display the manifestation of the vastness of the perfect good things which God gives to those men who are perfect, but the latter are only prepared to last a very short time, and are partaken of by well-disposed practisers of virtue who are making progress towards perfection. (197) On which account Abraham also, when following the will of God, retained those things which had been given to him by God: “but sends back the horses of the king of Sodom”{99}{#ge 14:21.} as the wages of harlots. And Moses also condescends to administer justice in most important points, and with reference to things of the greatest value. But the more unimportant causes and trials he commits to judges of inferior rank to investigate. (198) And whoever ventures to assert that any thing is his own shall be set down as a slave for ever and ever; as he who says, “I have loved my master, and my wife, and my children; I will not depart and be Free.”{100}{#ge 21:5.} He does well on confessing that slavery is proper for him; for can he be any thing but a slave who says, “Mine is mind, which is the master, being its own master, and possessed of absolute power; mine, also are the outward senses, the sufficient judges of corporeal substances; mine, also are the offspring of these objects of intellect which are the offspring of the mind, and the objects of the outward senses, which are the offspring of those same outward senses; for it is in my power to exert both the mind and the outward senses?” (199) But it is not sufficient for such a man only to bear witness against himself, but, being also condemned by God, who sentences him to most durable and everlasting slavery, he shall undergo his sentence: and be bored in the ear, that he may not receive the language of virtue, but that he may be a slave for ever, both in his mind and in his outward senses, which are bad and pitiless masters.